When the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) passed 220 to 215 in the U.S. House of Representatives Nov. 7, Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) was among those who voted for the legislation. On the morning of Nov. 12, supporters gathered at his Lawrenceville Highway office to thank him.
Along with Moveon.org, Health Care for America Now (HCAN) sponsored the rally at which about 30 supporters of health-care reform stood along Lawrenceville Highway with signs, some urging passersby to honk if they favor health care reform. Periodically horns could be heard in response to signs.
Although he was unable to be present for the rally, Johnson offered a statement in a news release earlier that week. “Today, we are one step closer to enacting historic health care reform,” Johnson states, noting that he is pleased that the legislation includes a public option. “For the majority of my constituents who receive health coverage through their employer, this bill will provide stability by doing away with rate increases if you get sick or coverage denials for pre-existing conditions. For the more than 190,000 residents in my district who have no health insurance, it will allow access to affordable care.”
Larry Pellegrini with HCAN, which describes itself as a national grassroots campaign dedicated to winning quality, affordable health care, said, “The congressman has been lobbied by both sides of the health-care debate. Those opposing it have sometimes been angry and scary. We’re being friendly and supportive.”
Pellegrini said his group had given Johnson the gift of a plant for his office. “Because what he’s doing will help keep people alive, we wanted to give him a living thing for his office.”
The House now awaits Senate action before voting on a final reconciled bill.
Panke Miller, a retiree and community activist, said she hopes that Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson can be persuaded to support the bill in the Senate. “I haven’t given up on Isakson. He’s not a shoot-from-the-hip ideologue. He’s a thoughtful, analytical man whom I believe will take this very seriously. I think he had a great proposal for end-of-life counseling.”
Johnson states that he expects the Affordable Health Care for America Act to have this effect in the 4th congressional district:
• Improve employer-based coverage for 349,000 residents.
• Provide credits to help pay for coverage for up to 166,000 households.
• Improve Medicare for 65,000 beneficiaries, including closing the prescription drug “doughnut hole” for 5,400 seniors.
• Allow 15,400 small businesses to obtain affordable health care coverage and provide tax credits to help reduce health insurance costs for up to 14,200 small businesses.
• Provide coverage for 153,000 uninsured residents.
• Protect up to 2,200 families from bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
• Reduce the cost of uncompensated care for hospitals and health care providers by $98 million.